Mirfield Stags keep title challenge on track with victory at Sharlston
Mirfield Stags staved off a second half comeback to defeat Sharlston Rovers 32-24 and record an eighth straight win in Pennine League Division One.
The Stags latest win leaves them six points clear of second placed Upton, although they have played two games more.
Mirfield handed a debut to full-back Jarrod Ward and the visitors built up a 24-point lead as they dominated the first half before Sharlston battled back after the break.
Mirfield hit the front after only five minutes when they capitalised on a Sharlston error to cross for the opening try, which was converted.
The home side tried to take the game back to the Stags and enjoyed a good period of play with Paul Greaves and Jorge Richardson impressing.
Sharlston were on attack when a pass was intercepted by the Stags winger on his own line and he raced the length of the field for a terrific try, which was improved.
Rovers came back again and a good kick by Richardson was fumbled with Mathew Lythgoe first to react as he offloaded back inside but the Stags defence was alert to keep Richardson out.
Mirfield capitalised when Sharlston again lost possession to score two more converted tries as they led 24-0 at half-time.
Stags extended the lead straight from the restart when they regained possession from the kick off and punished some lazy Sharlston defending, for an unconverted try.
Rovers hit back as good work by Lee Bettinson and Sean Markey saw Lee Dutson score after 50 minutes and Richardson converted.
Mirfield again benefited when Sharlston once more lost possession as they crossed for a sixth try to extend their lead to 32-6.
Rovers were not deterred by this and again clawed their way back into the game with strong running from Brendon Gibbins and Ben Lyons and they were rewarded on 65 minutes when a good run by Mason Millington gave James Lingard an opportunity to score a fine try which Richardson converted.
Rovers didn’t let up and following good work by Pat Harrison and Kyle Dutson, Ash Smith crashed way over with Richardson’s goal closing the gap to 32-18.
Josh Harrison and Kyle Littlewood both went close for the home side before Liam Kendall broke through and scored on 75 minutes with the conversion by Richardson leaving Rovers eight points behind going into the closing stages.
Mirfield used all their experience to close the game out and prevent Rovers causing a comeback upset.
Mikey Otty and Casey Canterbury led the way for Mirfield with a brace of tries apiece, with Dom Flanagan and Scott Bradley also crossing, while Wayne Wilson landed three goals and Flanagan one.
The Stags face a home clash against third-placed Illingworth at Hilrich Park this Saturday (kick off 2pm) with their opponents currently lying third with three wins and four defeats from seven games.
Hanging Heaton suffered a 40-10 defeat at home to Drighlington last week and they stay fourth in the table on six points but having played more games than anyone else in the division and they sit out the action this week.